Use of proton pump inhibitors decrease cellular oxidative burst in patients with decompensated cirrhosis

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Background and Aims:

Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are commonly used antisecretory drugs and have been linked to an increased risk of bacterial infections in cirrhosis. We investigated whether the treatment with PPIs in cirrhosis affects the oxidative burst activity of granulocytes and monocytes and its possible interference with serum norfloxacin (Nflx) levels in these patients.


70 patients with cirrhosis and ascitic fluid and 24 healthy controls were included in the study and distributed into groups according to the regular use of PPIs and/or norfloxacin. The blood granulocyte and monocyte's phagocytic activity and oxidative burst were evaluated by flow cytometry. Blood levels of norfloxacin were measured by HPLC and bacterial translocation was evaluated by detection of bacterial DNA in blood.


Use of PPIs was associated with a decreased granulocyte and monocyte oxidative burst, but not of phagocytic activity, as compared with patients not receiving PPIs. PPIs use did not affect serum norfloxacin levels in patients. A not significant trend to an increased bacterial DNA translocation was observed in patients receiving PPIs, including patients simultaneously receiving norfloxacin.


PPIs significantly decrease cellular oxidative burst in cirrhosis. This fact may provide a pathogenic explanation to the reported high rates of bacterial infections in this setting, and strongly suggests that PPIs should only be used in patients with cirrhosis when clinically indicated.

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